Red Pill Blues, the title of Maroon 5’s sixth album, is a reference to the option between the red pill and the blue pill in the film Matrix (1999). However, the title has little to no connection to what the entire project wishes to communicate: Narratives of love within the contexts of different relationships.
Listeners are given high hopes with the sensual opening track, “Best 4 U,” only to be disappointed by the ceaseless bombardment of songs that sound as if the only thing the band took into consideration was radio replayability. Most songs of this caliber are those filled with catchy beats and rhyme-filled lyrics, making them easy to memorize.
However, the issue is that some of these songs usually grow to become irritable due to the sheer amount of times they’re played on the radio, which more often than not, exposes the inane lyrics. Although there are artists who can accomplish this without becoming irritable like DNCE with “Cake by the Ocean,” Maroon 5 is unable to join their ranks. Perfect examples of tracks like these in the album are “Girls Like You,” reminiscent of the irritation caused by Nicki Minaj’s “Starships,” and the lead single “What Lovers Do,” a disappointing failure to capitalize on its SZA feature.
Lyrically, the simple wording in most of the songs lacks a degree of elevation, leading to uninteresting narratives and an impression that they were placed for the sake of an easy rhyme. This is heard in tracks such as “Lips on You” and “Help Me Out” which feel too redundant even before the second chorus rolls in.
What is more disappointing, however, are songs that remind of Maroon 5’s proclivity to produce hits. These tracks are able to integrate the production and lyrics together—a welcome respite from the drudgery. Songs such as “Plastic Rose” and “Whiskey” are proof enough that Maroon 5 has the capacity to create quality songs that have strong radio replayability.
Overall, the album feels mediocre due to the redundancy of majority of the tracks. Despite the great production, most of the tracks lack a particular artistry, evident in multiple songs sounding alike and lyrics which seem lazily written.
As if to forebode the entire project, Red Pill Blues fails to offer a cohesive narrative on love and feels underwhelming entirely. Given all the avenues to execute a potentially successful album, Maroon 5 falls short and leaves their listeners wanting to return to back catalogues, in search of the Maroon 5 they originally fell in love with.
Featured photo retrieved from virginradiolb.com.